Publisher/Date: Alyson Books, June 2007
Genre(s): Erotica, Short Story
Iridescence can be defined as “a play of lustrous, changing colors.” In Jolie du Pre’s own IRIDESCENCE: SENSUOUS SHADES OF LESBIAN EROTICA, she definitely plays with the lines of color with a mélange of ethnic women seeking pleasure.
A writer featured in several erotica anthologies, du Pre has compiled a collection of stories featuring females of African American, Caucasian, Asian, Latina and Indian descent in varying sexual rendezvous and compromising situations. Every tale has its own flair, and the rainbow of races shown in the pages of Iridescence present a multicolored hue not often seen in lesbian literature. That’s what makes Iridescence all the more special.
The book begins with Fiona Zedde’s “Night Music,” a melodious romance budding between Rhiannon, a shy orchestra lover, and Zoya, a dreadlocked violin player. They meet after Zoya’s concert at the symphony hall, realizing their attraction could create a harmony all its own. “Lick ‘Er License” offers a glimpse into a Latina nightclub, where a bartender serves drinks with a passion for her clients, and ends up finding her own love in the club.
While romance is on display in Iridescence, the same can be said for clothes-ripping, steamy encounters, such as the tantalizing “Shopping in New York,” where a boring wait for a friend in a dressing room turns into a naughty scene for a Latina butch; she’ll never look at miniskirts in the same way. In “The Portrait,” an artist asks a beautiful Asian woman to be her model in an attempt to capture the rich colors of her luminous skin, and finds herself desiring more than what’s on her easel.
Iridescence, in its fervor to bring something different to the table, also attempts to break down stereotypes. For example, a patron desires both the curry chicken and the exotic waitress at her favorite Indian restaurant. While Sasha is turned on by the authentic dress of the hostess, she gets her own surprise when she sees the woman sans sari and bindi – and realizes her Indian fantasy is nothing compared to the real woman behind the costume. Sasha learns is perception isn’t everything.
The final act, written by du Pre, is simply titled “Monisha,” a tale involving two Black women who meet at a coffee shop. How typical, until Monisha invites the patron into her world, finding passion like she’s never known. Too bad she has other obligations.
Iridescence is vibrant, giving the reader so many shades of love that each one stands out. We get to know more about different cultures, from the way they interact to how they live. What makes the book so cohesive is that desire knows no race, but looks into the heart of the woman. That’s what du Pre conveys in Iridescence, and it shows in every connection and every infatuation.
It’s time we had a book like this.
Reviewed December 2008